ShoretelIn an earlier issue of Asian eMarketing we introduced you to ShoreTel’s “brilliantly simple phone systems and unified communications (UC) solutions”. This time, David Petts, the company’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Sales, gives us insights into ShoreTel’s outstanding channel partner program.

Petts is responsible for optimizing ShoreTel’s go-to-market strategy. And as we know, his company primarily sells and markets their products through channel partners.

Quite obviously, he is doing a good job as he was nominated as one of CRN’s Channel Chiefs this year and ShoreTel’s Champion Partner Program received a 5-Star rating in the CRN 2014 Partner Program.

“This recognition by CRN is further support that our channel program is meeting the needs of solution providers and enabling them to have successful businesses,” Petts stated, adding: “ShoreTel and its partners share the same goals of delivering UC solutions that improve communication and collaboration, with superior levels of customer care and satisfaction.”

ShoreTel is driven for growth, nurturing around 1,000 partners around the world by now. The redesigned Champion Partner Program is just another step to keep up the momentum: It includes mainstays such as opportunity registration, sales and technical training, marketing development funds (MDF), marketing support and more. In addition, it offers tools and programs to increase solution provider success and profitability, such as workshops to facilitate cloud business planning and enablement, as well as sales professional recruiting assistance.

Petts explained: “One of the fundamental changes we made with the Champion Partner Program is what we call channels self-sufficiency. We encourage our partners to take on training provided by ShoreTel, besides giving marketing support and physical investment.”

Early this year the company reorganized its Champion Partner Program to make its partners even more successful, by simplifying it overall, whilst reducing channel conflict.

This includes in detail:

A streamlined discount structure that allows all partners to earn higher programmatic discounts. The program changes include simplifying the discount structure by establishing tier-based discounts, modifications to annual level billing requirements by tier and partner type, and making the discounts by tier the same regardless of geography or partner type.

A new opportunity registration to reward partners who generate their own opportunities and provide early visibility to ShoreTel. The company has established a set of defined and auditable submission and approval processes for opportunity registration, to build better channel conflict management into the program and created objective criteria and rules that align to existing sales stages.

An enhanced market development fund (MDF), simplified and expanded to include the elimination of minimum revenue for partners to receive MDF, the creation of flat accrual rates for different tiers and types, a streamlined funds distribution process, and a centralized approval/reimbursement process.

A modified support buy pricing that is moving from a “buy price” to a discount structure in alignment with all other ShoreTel pricing. In anticipation of this change, a range of partner-specific training and knowledge offerings will be delivered with a focus on increasing overall customer satisfaction.

A training and certification update, based on direct feedback from partners. ShoreTel is making minor changes to the certification requirements, including the addition of a solution architect certification and additional self-study course options and is launching a new accreditation program. Whilst not part of the Champion Partner Program, this complementary program allows partners to increase their value to customers by deepening their knowledge of ShoreTel‘s solutions.

Petts commented: “The good news is, partners seem to like it. They enjoy having a healthy business with ShoreTel and we can continue to outperform the market in terms of our growth rate and new customer gains.”

When asked to summarize what he considers to be the key criteria of an outstanding channel partner, he answered quick as a shot: “Commitment and compassion around our business relationship as well as belief in our solution set and value proposition – brilliantly simple and all that we offer - working in a collaborative fashion, understanding the value chain that exists and working in a way as intended.” “The program complements that drive, which was the sort of essence of the change”, he concluded.

By Daniela La Marca